Friday, December 2, 2016

OP/ED - FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH DRAMA - One frontman implodes while another makes the Save!

At a recent Massachusetts FFDP show, frontman Ivan Moody acted strange, left the stage several times and at one point explained his behavior as grieving over his mom being ill and on her death bed. A day or say later, after his sister confirmed his mom was fine and Moody tried explaining away the incident as a mental breakdown similar to Kanye West, the band has picked up ATR's frontman Phil Labonte to carry out the rest of their dates.

I'm not a fan of FFDP. I am a fan of ATR and Phil Labonte. This is not the first time Phil has stepped in for a band that was in the middle of frontman drama. Several years ago, Killswitch Engage found themselves without a vocalist, when Howard Jones left the band to deal with personal issues. As a KSE fan, I was happy to see him save the day so I can only imagine for those who are FFDP fans what they are going through.

Mental illness is a big issue and so is addiction. We see daily cases of people completely losing it. FFDP has had issues for years and are a popular band in some circles. A few years back, the band left the front man to fend for himself during a drunken rant. This isn't Ivan Moody's first rodeo. I'm sure there is alot of money involved getting tours together and I'm sure that there were many in the band as well as the crew wanting their lead singer to get help.........

I was gonna offer some support as a NON Fan that the band needs encouragement and good words.....but I'm not. The band is a vapid waste of space. It engages in "tough guy" vitriol and supports a dumbed down philosophy akin to drunkenly fist fighting your step sister outside the local watering hole.  Ivan Moody lying to his fans to scapegoat his own bullshit behavior is the lowest level a musician can stoop to. To stand in front of a crowd to lie about his mother dying and that he's sacrificing his personal time to try to perform for his fans just shows how much of an asshole this guy really is.

As a fan of ATR and Phil, I'm not gonna crap on his effort or his personal feelings about the band. I only hope that FFDP and it's fans learn a big lesson from this. It's now up to Moody to regain the trust of his fans and his band when or if he ever pulls his head out of his own ass.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Here's a butt-load of cool stuff that came out this year, that if you haven't already, you need to hear:
(that at least rhymed in my head)

"Heavy Mellow" is a good descriptor for this album.  It impressively manages to be legit heavy while having a soothing quality.  Strong cover to cover, with excellent "replayability". Check out "Before The Dawn":  Youngblood Supercult are from Topeka, Kansas.

BLACK LUNG: See The Enemy
I would call Black Lung an old-school rock band with a soft spot for heavy sounds.  Another high quality album, start to finish.  Here is "Priestess."  Black Lung are from Baltimore, Maryland.

SONORA RITUAL: Dust Monument
Germany's Sonora Ritual are truly talented musicians and songwriters.  I have played this album lots of times, and still find it interesting.  Here is "Departure:" (the name of one of my favorite Journey albums, back in the day)

GORILLA PULP: Peyote Queen
Viterbo, Italy's Gorilla Pulp deserves at very least a "best use of the talk box" award for the tune "Electric Woman".  Note that none of these recommendations are albums with just a couple of good tunes.  Here again, lots to appreciate here, including the awesome cover art.

NATIVE DAUGHTERS: Master Manipulator
Finishing up with Denver, Colorado's band Native Daughters.  Dual drum players gives this band a really distinctive quality.  Equally likely to be claimed by heavy metal and stoner rock crowds, Master Manipulator is as worthy as instrumental heavy music gets.  Check out one of my favorites, "Two Princes":  If you stick around and listen to the follow-up, "The UninVAlted", you will not be disappointed.

There's more.  I may continue this cornucopia post, because there's so much more music and so little time left in the calendar year.  But for now, although it can't be on the same level as my family and friends, I count Bandcamp as one of the things I am thankful for, as it brought all this great music to me this year.  Enjoy your deserved downtime.     -ULTRA

Saturday, November 19, 2016

THE WELL: Pagan Science
A Really Special Album
If you like your music heavy with a touch of psychedelic, then you need to get this album.  Coolest album I've picked up in a long time.  This trio from Austin Texas are truly gifted songwriters, and expert musicians.  There is so much attention to detail in this album, along with a variety of hard-rock sounds and distinctive vocal harmonization.  Every single tune will have you head-nodding while you listen, and each tune brings something different to the table.  The transitioning from song to song on this album if you just play it cover to cover, is as smooth as it gets.  Here is the opening track, "Black Eyed Gods".

In sports, going from first to last sucks, but in music it can be awesome; After hearing the opening tune, check out the closer, "I Don't Believe".
 The Well is:
Ian Graham: Guitar, Vocals
Lisa Alley: Bass, Vocals
Jason Sullivan: Drums

Back next week, but feel compelled to end my review of Pagan Science with the word wow.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Gearing up for Metallica's latest release, I figured I'd pick the best Post Black Album tracks they've put out. I've included covers and a few off this upcoming album. It drops at midnight and the band is putting out a video every two hours for each new track.
1.The Day That Never Comes (Death Magnetic)
2. Bleeding Me (Load)
3. No Leaf Clover (S&M)
4. Last Caress/Green Hell (Garage Inc)
5. Am I Evil (Garage Inc)
6. Devils Dance (Load)
7. Now That We're Dead ( Self-Destruct)
8. Murder One ( Self-Destruct)
9. The Unforgiven II (Death Magnetic)
10. All Nightmare Long (Death Magnetic)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

LOTD! Mina Caputo's Love Hard

Mina Caputo

Today's LOTD! is Mina Caputo's (Life of Agony) latest album Love Hard. It's a really poignant and personal album. If you're a fan David Bowie and John Lennon you'll love it as much as I do. It was recently uploaded to her youtube channel and it's definitely an album I recommend you guys and gals picking up. Mina is currently touring Europe with Life of Agony which will be releasing a much anticipated album next year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

First Reactions to Metallica's " Self-Destruct"

I've been one of those old school fans that hated on anything post Black Album for years. Aside from a few tracks here and there, I was majorly disappointed with the St. Anger and Death Magnetic albums. Going into Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, my expectations are pretty low. The first three tracks released by the band have left me wanting for the old days...let's see how this first listen goes?

Hardwired - I've heard this track so many times prior to hearing the rest of this album. I don't mind the pace but I have issue with the lyrics being kinda pointless. I was a fan of Metallica, first and foremost for the stories they told and the danger of their delivery. One without the other leaves me flat. I don't find using lyrics like "Shit" and "Fuck" will appeal to anyone over 18 listening to this.

Atlas Rise - main riffs sound like Seek and Destroy meets Dyers Eve. Hetfield really plays it safe and stays in one range. I've been a critic of Hetfield's shriek/almost drowned cat sound live. In this stage of his career he's better off staying in this range so that he can adequately play it live. Lars stays the course, nice amount of Bass in the opening and the Kirk's solo is not terrible. The classic dual guitar sound is the backbone of the track.

Now that we're dead - I'm actually intrigued by the opening of this track. It has an ominous feel that the previously leaked tracks were missing. Hetfield once again stays in his lane on this one. I feel like he's failed in the past pushing too hard on tracks and it ends up standing out too much. The band sounds good, it's not standard Metallica fare. It doesn't immediately bring to mind any of their previous material. I wouldn't mind hearing them follow suit with this style as they enter the dog days of their career. Good tune.

Moth Into Flame - While I can't stand the lyrics, I find the pace pretty cool. There is nice soloing on this and I don't mind the backing vocal track. The chorus is really repetitive and would be better suited for a shorter song. It has a Black Album feel to it. There is a trend among the songs as far as staying safe. Maybe it's what bothered me the most about all of the early release tracks. Metallica have sacrificed danger for a cleaner, direct route.

Dream No More - The intro is heavy on Bass and chugs. Almost feels like Alice In Chains at points with it's overall grungey sound. More and more listening to these tracks in succession I feel like this album could've easily been a followup to the Black album instead of Load. While it is a six plus minute track it doesn't feel too long.

Halo on Fire - goddamn, you gotta be kidding me... this is Metallica? I'm not hating, this new Metallica sound is tasty and I'm not gonna mention they start to sound like Kiss's Heaven's on Fire during the chorus. Great transitions, great new sound, lots of growth on this. Metallica have embraced a more rock sound on this and I'm not mad at it.

Confusion - listen to that intro, is this Danzig, the that marching drum delivery is definitely Lars. The production is old school and so are those riffs. War songs by Metallica, you can never go wrong. While not the best song I've heard on this album it has some good moments. It could use more direction as far as the follow through. A little too self indulgent in it's directness.

Manunkind - interesting opening to this song, it reminds me of bassist Robert Trujillo's bass hero JACO who he created a documentary about. Decent midtempo tune. Follows the path of the previous songs on the album. I like the title's pun.

Here Come Revenge - possibly the best Hetfields voice sounds on the album. Well crafted song and the song has strong lyrics. It's as straight forward as the rest of the album but it tells a story which I had criticized the early leaked tracks for. Solid playing by the band as well. They are in full gear and Kirk's solo actually means something to the song.

Am I Savage - reading the title I thought of their cover of "AM I EVIL". This is not that song but worry not, this is a slow burning beast of a track. The musicianship is vibrant and upfront.

Murder One - Hetfield's delivery from the start reminds me of Freddie Mercury's voice on "One Vision". A tune about motorcycles and lyrical references to traditional tattoo phrases that doesn't sound hack. I'm pretty sure this is a tribute to Lemmy and if it isn't they should say it is.

Spit Out The Bone - They started this album on a fast and heavy note and so it ends the same way. They certainly put this track into overdrive and when Hetfield delivers "Spit out the Bone" he means it. It's great to see him step away from being so self indulgent in the way he was singing and not rely on that southern drawl thing he was doing for so many records after the Black Album. This is a nice follow up song to Murder One. It makes sense. It's a long song but given that it's been 8 years, people aren't gonna complain.

--- Conclusion after the First Listening ---
I had a huge issue with the first tracks the band released. I felt they lacked a lot of substance and they lowered my expectations. Fortunately after hearing the album, I'm gladly eating my words. The band has been through many phases since the Black Album. From eye liner to various chapters of Unforgiven, from finding sobriety on St. Anger to trying to rekindle their sound on Death Magnetic. Have the band come full circle? Yeah, they've found their way back to writing songs that matter. They've stripped away a lot of unnecessary elements and went back to basics. A few songs hearken back to early Metallica but for the most part this is a new phase. The adult, sober and still pissed off version that put their priorities in check. In many cases the band showcases that they can play in the style of bands earlier their own incarnation(Iron Maiden/Thin Lizzy dual guitarmanship) while still sounding modern. " Self destruct" has earned my respect as they definitely put the last eight years to good use.

Friday, November 11, 2016

BLOOD CEREMONY: Lord of Misrule

I Was Late to the Table
..but when I got there the food was no less delicious.  Lord of Misrule came out early this year and somehow I missed it until late September.  It has been in my car playlist ever since.  I spend all too much time in the car due to a lengthy commute, so I need to have good tunes, and like to rotate the albums in my playlist frequently.  But Lord of Misrule needs to stay in my car for quite some time.
What makes Blood Ceremony so cool is the way they take Sabbath-inspired guitar playing and seamlessly mix in flute, organs and folk-music themes.  Some bands with female vocalists tend to over-feature the vocals, and give the feeling that the singer really likes to listen to herself.  Alia O'Brien however, is a true rock singer - her singing is all about the tune, and not about herself.  And Sean Kennedy is a guitar virtuoso, always playing the most perfect and tasteful licks, whether playing distorted or clean.  The whole band are true rock professionals, and have yet to release any tune that is unworthy.  Check out "The Rogue's Lot".  It's subtle, but the bass and drum playing are super tasteful and are a big part of the guitar sounding so good.

And here is a playlist containing all four albums' opening tracks: The classic "Master of Confusion" from 2008's debut self-titled album, "The Great God Pan" from Living With The Ancients, "Witchwood" from The Eldritch Dark and finally "The Devil's Widow" from the new album.  Openers like these illustrate the ambition and straight-out balls that Blood Ceremony bring to the table.  If you drop out of any of these tunes early, you are truly missing out.  If not familiar with Blood Ceremony, grab yourself a beer or light something up and check out this truly unique rock band:
Pick up "Lord of Misrule" or any of Blood Ceremony's other releases here:Blood Ceremony on Rise Above Records.  The CD comes with lyrics, which are occult-inspired and thoughtfully written.

Blood Ceremony are:
Alia O'Brien: vocals, flute, wurlitzer, organ, mellotron
Sean Kennedy: guitars, chants
Lucas Gadke: bass, backing vocals
Michael Carrillo: drums, chants
Got another 2016 review for next weekend that I'm quite stoked about.  Until then, enjoy Grownman and his new writer Michael Jacques' posts, and stay heavy.     -ULTRA